I am so sick of hearing how the average people on the street are responsible for all the evils in the world, but especially what is happening to our environment, the oceans and the wildlife. The average person has nothing to do with what gets manufactured, what gets sold to the public or how the byproducts, leftovers and trash produced gets disposed of. The average person has very little control over anything.
Those who are ultimately responsible are the decision makers, the politicians, corporate heads and the wealthiest ruling class. The little people do their best to take care of the world in which we live. When I first entered the adult working world, I was all gung ho about ecology, recycling and protecting our environment. I was the one who went around the office building encouraging others to recycle and collecting the bins each month. Then one day, I found out that all that effort was a total waste of time and energy as 90% of the carefully collected “recyclable” materials ended up in regular landfills with all the other trash.
I learned back in the 80’s that the EPA and all the regulations being instituted to “protect” the environment, were not about the environment at all. These things were created in order to gain TOTAL CONTROL over the masses. The elite had discovered that people would accept the invasion of every area of their lives if they were convinced it was for the good of the planet.
The US government has known since the FIRST nuclear device that Nuclear power produces TOXIC WASTE for which there is no method of disposal. Yet they continue to insist on creating more. They knew when they stored the first TOXIC WASTE in the ocean, EXACTLY how long that storage would last. They knew it would break down and leak.
The ruling class has known for at least 50 years that plastic, styrofoam, plastic grocery bags, and disposable diapers, wreak havoc on our environment. Yet, they do nothing to about it. They keep right on producing these products and even more related products equally as harmful because it is profitable for them. Even though it takes 500 years for plastic to breakdown and it never becomes biodegradable. However, when exposed to sunlight, plastic begins to break down and as it does it releases poisonous gases into anything contained it. Styrofoam does not decompose in the environment under normal circumstances. Much like plastic, Styrofoam is made from a polystyrene-based petroleum product that is not biodegradable. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and Styrofoam takes much longer because it is a stronger form of plastic. Styrofoam, is a brand name for polystyrene foam, takes a hefty toll on the environment. Estimates vary for the breakdown of Styrofoam from a few years to as much as 1 million, depending on environmental conditions. Styrofoam is commonly used in disposable products that are only used once. These products can persist in the environment for more than a million years, however, since polystyrene is not biodegradable. Though it is slow to break down chemically, Styrofoam does, however, fragment into small pieces, choking animals that ingest it, clogging their digestive systems.
There have been generations of people who have been genuinely concerned for the environment and have taken great pains to try to help solve some of the issues but have run into brick walls with those who have the power to make things happen. They get frustrated, realize they are fighting a losing battle and give up the fight, resolving to do what they can in whatever areas they do have some control.
This series is about the ways that big government and the ruling class are responsible for the destruction of our environment and life as we have known it. SO read on, and think about this DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GIVE THEM MORE POWER???
READ ON, and see just what else has been polluting our water, and who is responsible. It is not you and me. Unless you understand that we are going to be held responsible for allowing these madmen to continue to destroy the earth on which we all live and breath. Water is our most precious commodity. Without it, we cannot survive.
Published on Jul 20, 2019
Annual metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste and total amount ending up in global water
SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers collected details of how 192 coastal countries got rid of their trash — and they calculated that eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. Co-author of the study Jenna Jambeck showed us how much that is.
“Five bags, like this, are filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world,” said Jambeck.
The plastic ends up not just floating on top of the ocean, it goes all the way down to the bottom.
“Some of it tends to sink and some of it tends to float and we are not even sure what happens to the fragments when they get below a certain size,” said Jambeck.
They found that 20 countries are responsible for more than 80 percent of the plastic going into the ocean annually. China is the worst — with about 2.4 million tons. The United States is number 20, responsible for about 750,000 pounds.
The patches of garbage floating in the Pacific are just a small amount of what’s really there. Jambeck called it, “the tip of the iceberg.”
Captain Charles Moore has been tracking what’s known as the “Pacific Garbage Patch” aboard his research boat, The Alguita.
“She’s got over a hundred thousand miles of deep sea research,” said Moore.
His latest discovery is a collection of ropes, floats, and trash that has created an artificial island that one can walk on.
“In the middle of the Pacific we discovered – this summer – we were there for a month and it’s beyond my wildest fears how bad it’s gotten out there,” said Moore.
The report finds that if current trends continue, the amount of plastic entering the oceans worldwide will double over the next ten years.
© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Simple answer is that they don’t.
Every enlisted sailor has had the disgusting job of working in the trash room, digging through bag after bag of trash, separating it into dumpable and undumpable waste. Biodegradable stuff like food and paper is thrown into a giant garbage disposal, ground up, and discharged into the ocean to get eaten by fish and plankton.
Plastics are melted into disks and stored onboard until the ship pulls into port.
If you’ve never smelled the nosehair singeing aroma of burning plastic encrusted with old food, you aren’t missing much.
Metal is ground up, placed in burlap sacks and, like the plastic, stored onboard until the ship pulls into port. This was harder to find an image for, since google images just kept pulling up images of metal trash cans, but you can use your imagination. I have been sliced up by metal shards more than once while trying to get them from the grinder into the bag, not a pleasant experience.
Sometimes, because working in the trash room sucks, sailors may try to get away with sneaking upstairs at night and throwing a few bags over the side. This is referred to as “night ops” and certainly happens more than the people in charge would like, but is not the general rule and not what they are supposed to be doing with it.
EDIT: wow, over 500 up votes, and on a thread unrelated to biology too! Thanks everybody!!
EDIT: Simon Beuller just provided an excellent image of metal disposal in the comments, so I’m posting it here.
EDIT: Below is an additional image that sort of sums up everything mentioned above, from a publication by the American Society of Naval Engineers written back in ‘97, showing the nature and function of all of the trash and garbage disposal equipment currently standard on newer naval vessels.
, Unspecified credentials for liability reasons. I am not an expert, I just live.
I was never in the armed forces, however I spent time on USN vessels for various reasons, once as a Tiger and that was best of all, because it wasn’t work.
When I first witnessed this I was appalled, I remember the 20th anniversary of Earth Day, was raised in an environmentally friendly school district that beat recycling into our heads, and worked with a myriad of vegans and militant environmentalists when I was a teenager. Despite my conservative opinions and capitalist pig attitude, when I witnessed trash being dumped overboard of the USS Willamette AO-180 for the first time I instinctually cringed and had a WTF moment, this was in the late 90’s.
I didn’t understand what was going on, because I was never at sea. I was raised on the Great Lakes and a cigarette butt thrown into the water is an executable offense. Even though it was announce over the ships PA, “Hold all plastics aboard” I witnessed enormous bags of trash tossed overboard. My friend explained what was in the bags and that the ocean would take care of it, largely because its organic material and sea life will consume it.
No “red tide” will surface ashore from trash discard from a USN vessel. They do not throw plastics or toxic waste overboard. All ships have the capacity to retain dangerous debris on board until they reach a port., former MM, DC, SW, Retired at United States Navy (1982-2005)
Why is the Navy allowed to dump their trash in the ocean when there is such a problem with garbage in the sea?
Just to be clear, there is a difference between “trash” and “garbage”. Garbage is usually anything that can rot rather quickly, namely, food waste. Trash is anything else, such as paper, cardboard, metal, etc…
When I initially enlisted in 1982, Naval ships generally threw most waste off the stern. Anything we didn’t want went over the side. Old valves, broken parts, boxes of unwanted bolts and screws. If a plastic bag were used to carry something out, we’d poke holes in it to help it sink. That was at a time when we were in the Cold War, and no one was really concerned with shit at the bottom of the ocean.
And, while it was illegal, most ships would pump oily bilge and waste water into the sea without any consequences. We’d do this even in port, and one of the requirements of my night roving watch was to pump the day’s water out of the bilge. This usually had a sheen of oil, sometimes even a thick layer.
As time went on, the Navy was under pressure to be more environmentally friendly. Bilge water was treated in special equipment to remove the oil prior to being pumped. The waste oil that is extracted is often used in electricity production.
We also had a plastic processor installed, which basically melted any plastic into a large disk, which was stored until we reached shore, and then disposed of in the proper receptacles. I can still smell the sharp, weird odor the processor had, since it was just outside my shop and berthing. Not pleasant by any means, since it handled food contaminated waste along with everything else.
Garbage, as in food waste, was generally processed in a disposal grinder, and flushed to the ocean while we were out. In port, garbage was usually placed in heavy duty paper bags, and carried out to the bins.
Trash was also thrown into those large paper bags, and a space on the ship was designated for collection and holding. When we pulled into port, a working party was called, and many of the junior duty personnel were tasked with humping the trash to the pier.
By the time I left my last ship, throwing or pumping anything not processed or not perishable was prohibited unless it was an emergency. We still dumped garbage over if the grinder was broken, but generally, being caught dumping or pumping was a good way to lose a rank., works at United States Navy
Unlike surface ships, submarines are almost never resupplied at sea. They begin their patrol with a full load of foodstuffs and other supplies adequate for the crew. The limited available space in a submarine means that all unnecessary packaging material must be eliminated. Cardboard boxes are unpacked, and the cardboard is left at the dock. Many of the foodstuffs come in metal cans. Syrups are usually used for mixing soft drinks. Many spare parts are partially unpacked before being stored aboard.
Waste that is discharged overboard must either be pumped out against the ambient sea pressure or blown out using pressurized air. Waste materials are collected and periodically discharged. The potential impact on ship safety associated with opening valves to the sea and on ship detect-ability by running pumps or blowing tanks to the sea makes waste disposal operations a significant event. Mission considerations may force waste disposal operations to be suspended for some period of time.
Dry waste is consolidated using a trash compactor and then placed in special cans. These cans are fabricated on board from pre-punched galvanized, perforated steel sheets, using a roller tool. The resulting cans are 28.5 inches long and 9 inches in diameter. They have metal tops and bottom caps. Metal weights are added to ensure that the cans will go to the bottom. The cans are ejected from the submarine using a trash disposal unit (TDU), which is a long cylindrical, vertical tube connected to the ocean through a ball valve. Several cans are placed atop one another in the TDU, the top of the TDU is sealed by closing a pressure cap, the ball valve is opened, and the cans ejected through a combination of gravity and air pressure.
Submarines dispose of their trash by sending it to the bottom of the ocean, not floating around all willy nilly., Honorably Discharged from the USN in 1988 as Hospital Corpsman
Good question, I had no idea the practice of dumping trash into the ocean had stopped from my time in the Navy! I received my honorable discharge in 1991 after serving on the USS Fort Fisher LSD-40 (decommished now), we dumped literally tons of trash of all types from paper to large pieces of equipment and it was one of the few things about the USN I hated and really felt disgusted with my self when ordered to do it. I am happy to read from other answers here that it has stopped and I hope it’s not just the US Navy that has stopped this practice, but unfortunately I doubt that the other Navy’s in the world like China or Russia’s probably still do. Sometimes technology advances really do end up being a good thing I guess, thanks for this question and thanks for the answers because I had no idea that this practice had really been stopped!
Treaties and laws. MARPOL 73/78 and it’s annexes explain trash and other discharges agreed to by Nations. All based on Law of the Seas treaties worked by the UN.
You will see new boundaries and improvements as adaptation and understanding improved.
The platform of ship will have different capabilities for storage and disposal. Carriers and Destroyers have some different equipment.
Plastic is completely forbidden from going over-the-side. The large melted plastic pucks mention in another article is a capability on all Navy vessels. Destroyers have this giant saltwater mulcher machine that will break down paper, food, cardboard into a composted slurry that logically makes a material that those with composters in their backyard find environmentally friendly.
The harder bit is aluminum cans and other metals. They can take up a lot of storage to save. Start to stink too. Some ships can grind these items to save space, and in the days leading up to being import or underway replenishment ready for transfer to the awaiting disposal facility.
Separating trash at the end of a meal is a science that makes a lot of Sailors eligible for an Earth science degree.
Navy is doing it’s best to be right and ahead of the law. Remember that the oceans are immensely and vastly huge. I mean Trump huge.
Deep sea divers in the Pacific Ocean have taken never before seen photographs of the wrecks of hundreds of World War Two planes, which crashed in the conflict.
Among the wrecks in the aircraft graveyard are a US Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber and a US F4U Corsair, which lie around 130 feet under the surface of the ocean.
The site is near the Marshall Islands and around five miles from Roi-Namur.
At the end of the war in the Pacific, many aircraft were simply pushed into the sea as they were no longer needed or were too badly damaged.
The US strategy in the Pacific was to island hop from own tiny island to the next as it advanced towards mainland Japan. A central part to this strategy was the use of air bombing raids to disable the occupying Japanese ground troops as much as possible before the US launched their ground attacks.
The underwater photographs show the planes bedazzle with coral and sea life, with thousands of fish using them as a home and safe haven.
Some of the planes lie on the sea bed, while others stick out of the sand in a vertical position. The majority of the planes have remained in one piece, with little damage to their structure.
The P-47 was a very versatile aircraft which served in every theatre in the war due to its robust airframe and bomb load
You can see some more of Brandi’s photos, if you click on her name below.
Brandi Mueller, who is 31 and from Wisconsin in the US, took the photographs whilst on a scuba diving expedition in the area. She says the area is well-known as a graveyard for aircraft and most were simply dumped at the end of the war, so aren’t war graves.
Brandi says she’s drawn to the wrecks because they make the seascape so unique. Particularly since most wrecks are ships and not planes. She says it is a strange experience to see the planes under the water, when you are used to seeing them on the ground or in the sky.
Other Allied aircraft in the graveyard include Helldivers, the B-25 Mitchell, the Curtiss C-46 Commando and F4F Wildcats.
The planes were dumped over the side of aircraft carriers and transport vessels. There was a lot of activity around the Marshall Islands with almost 50,000 US troops stationed in the area. From there the US launched attacks on Guam and then made their way to the Japanese mainland, the Mail Online reports.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless is famous for being the aircraft that made the most impact on bombing raids over Japanese aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway in 1942.
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Electronic waste is defined as a device which is attached to a plug and includes everything from electric toothbrushes to kettles, computers, printers, smartphones, washing machines, and radios.
The new study from United Nations University found that 43 million tons of electronic waste was generated in 2016, a rise of eight percent from 2014, the fastest growth of any type of refuse, and double the rate of plastic refuse. It is the equivalent in weight to almost nine Great Pyramids of Giza or 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Source
What’s on the bottom of Lake Washington? Listener Merry McCreery wanted to know.
For KUOW Public Radio’s Local Wonder project, I embarked on a strange journey that took me to the heart of this vast lake that separates Seattle from the Eastside. What I learned was astonishing, often gross and, on occasion, heartbreaking.
On a recent evening, I hopped a boat with five scuba divers who have mapped the whole lake floor with sonar. We shoved off from the Magnuson Park boat launch.
Mike Racine, our captain, pointed to a map of the lake on a computer screen. It was covered with hundreds of markers, called targets. Each one represented an object of interest detected by their sonar. We headed out to check out target 590, a spot they’ve never explored before.
“When I’m out here, sometimes I imagine what it would be like if there was no water in Lake Washington,” Racine said. “What would you see?”
You would see an underwater museum, a place where you can’t go more than a few feet without discovering something. And the thing you’d discover out here, just off the boat launch, is big.
“The PB4Y is just off to our left,” Racine said, referring to a huge World War II-era bomber.
“It’s got a big ball turret on the nose with two 50-calibre machine guns sticking out of the ball turret,” he continued. “Four giant radial engines with big propellers. The bomb bay doors are open.”
It crashed here in 1956. Now it rests at the bottom – 140 feet beneath a water skier skimming the surface.
Lake Washington is like a treasure trove for old plane wrecks. There are at least seven at the bottom of the Lake. They’re a frozen piece of our wartime history, a time when mock air battles raged over these waters. Midair collisions would send airplanes crashing into the lake.
Racine then pointed to the middle of the lake, where about a dozen coal cars are submerged – the oldest wreck in the lake.
The coal cars were on a barge heading from Newcastle to Seattle when they sank in a storm. That was 139 years ago. Many remain upright and still fully loaded with coal.
Racine flicked on his depth sounder to start hunting for our target.
Dan Warter, a diver with the Maritime Documentation Society, hopes they find a boat. But he said missions can be disappointing.
“There’s been so many times where we’ll find something on the sonar, we’re like ‘Oh, that looks like a plane wing or that looks like something very interesting,’” he said. “And you get down there and it’s the handle of a lawn mower sticking out of the mud.”
Warter said there are about 400 boats beneath the surface: ferries, barges, three Navy minesweepers, mostly in the shallower waters off Kirkland, where the Lake Washington Shipyards used to be. Now, it’s a graveyard for wrecked boats.
“These are full-on, full-sized ferries on the bottom, right underneath all the yachts that are parked there now,” said diver Ben Griner, also aboard.
As for the minesweepers, one day they were docked, the next they were gone.
It wasn’t until years later that Griner’s dive team discovered the minesweepers at the bottom of the lake. They’re so big you can swim right through the old corridors.
Some of these boats sank in fires. Some in storms. Griner said many met a more dubious end. When a boat got old …
“The standard practice was just to go sink it,” he said.
The tradition of scuttling unwanted boats is still going on. Even newer yachts have met an untimely fate.
“You’ll see very, very large concrete blocks in the back of these boats where people have tried to force them down underwater until they’ll sink,” Griner said. “Anything that people wanted to hide is on the bottom of Lake Washington.”
It’s been that way for centuries. Lake Washington is a dumping ground for things that people want to disappear. Garbage, boats, but also other things.
Two underwater forests.
A baby in a bag from a medical research facility.
The body of a dog found last month tied to concrete.
Possibly, a submerged village.
The lake’s deep, inky black water hides things from the casual swimmer or boater. They sink into the sludge of silt and mud at the bottom. The cold water – just 10 degrees above freezing at the bottom – preserves them.
Which means they’re only forgotten until someone finds them.
“Nobody takes the trash out on the bottom of Lake Washington,” Captain Racine said.
“There are trash bags all over the lake,” Griner said. “They’re on the wrecks. They’re next to the wrecks. You’ll be swimming around and just bump into one. And that’s something that creeps me out. I just don’t open them.”
We homed in on the dive target. Our position had to be perfect. Visibility is so poor that divers can be a foot from a target at the bottom and miss it. Finally, Racine nailed the spot.
“Whoooaaa!” he yelled. “Right here.”
The divers jump out of the boat and disappear into the lake.
As much as these guys know about the bottom of Lake Washington, mysteries remain. Of the 800 targets on their sonar map, they’ve only explored about 200. That’s after diving almost every week for the past eight years.
Explore an interactive map of those 800 sites from the Maritime Documentation Society:
About 10 minutes later, two heads covered in black neoprene pop up from the waves.
It was a big concrete block that looked like an anchor, they said. Also, a fire extinguisher, burlap bags, wiring, lights, beer cans and beer bottles.
They hope the search will get easier soon. Griner recently purchased new sonar equipment, which means the divers can spend less time diving to lawn chairs and more time exploring things with deeper historical significance, like a World War I airplane that they hope to locate.
As I returned to shore, it occurred to me: The question isn’t, “What is at the bottom of Lake Washington?” It’s, what isn’t?
Submit your question about the Puget Sound region in the form below. Every month, KUOW editors pick three questions and ask listeners to vote on the one they want reported.
When metal is dumped into the ocean, some eyebrows are raised for sure. But this time it was a bit different. For the first time, it turned out that throwing unused metals into the ocean waters has a positive side effect too. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York dumped more than 2,500 subway cars right into the ocean in order to create reefs for fishes to live in. This step by the NYC authority turned into a huge success. Photographer Stephen Mallon of the Front Room Gallery captured the project over a period of three years. The photos were stunning and full of life!ADVERTISEMENTS
The artificial reef project was started by The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in 2001. The idea was to create artificial reefs for fishes in the Atlantic with the help of old and unused subway cars. The project expanded along the coast of Delaware to South Carolina.
In 2001, Delaware was the first state to receive subway cars from New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. As of 2010, Delaware boasts of 14 permitted artificial reef sites that were sculpted from concrete structures, sunken vessels, old subway cars, and decommissioned military vehicles.
One reef in particular, known as the “Redbird Reef,” was made from a majority of subway cars. Redbird comprises of 714 “Redbird” subway cars (hence the name), eight tugboats, 86 tanks, and 3,000 tons of tires from trucks. Today, the site is home to numerous marine species such as black sea bass, blue mussels, flounder, sponges, coral, and barnacles. Also, over a period of seven years, the quantity of marine food increased by 400-fold.The project was carried out along the coasts of Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The subway cars were first cleaned of any materials or structures that might be harmful to the fish. After stripping the cars of their interiors, all that was left were large, empty, box-shaped objects that were perfect for water circulation and for fish to swim around. These were then hauled into the ocean with the help of barges.
The subway cars underwent a form of cleaning before being dumped into the ocean. The potentially hazardous materials such as greasy and oily parts were removed. Also, potential barrier structures such as doors, windows, motors, wheels, seats, hydraulics, light fixtures, and the AC systems were removed. The interiors were properly steam-cleaned too.
Whatever was left after the stripping was tossed into the ocean with the help of barges. A hydraulic lift was used to pick up the cars and drop them one at a time, once a month. Initially, the subway cars attracted invertebrates and small migrating fish. Eventually, they started attracting a myriad of marine life such as different types of fish, sharks, and sea turtles.
Although there have been numerous such initiatives with different materials, subway cars were found to be roomy enough for certain fish. Also, their heavyweight does not make them shift easily in storms and are long lasting without throwing off much debris.ADVERTISEMENTS
There were few oppositions from environmental groups who were of the opinion that the asbestos present in the subway cars was harmful to marine life. But this was soon ruled out. The project ended in 2010 on a note of success.
Certain environmental groups, such as The American Littoral Society, were opposed to this project. They were critical on the use of Redbird subway cars as these are known to contain a certain amount of asbestos. The asbestos is present in the glue that secures the floor panels and the wall insulation.
Studies were carried out by the state and federal environmental officials. They approved the use of Redbirds as the asbestos did not pose any threat to marine life. Moreover, it had to be airborne to be harmful to humans. There was a certain push by the officials to use New York City’s cars as they are comprised of only stainless steel on the outside and also contain less asbestos as compared to the other subway cars.
The NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority ended the project in 2010. Their main reason for stopping the project was the increasing use of plastic in newer cars. They had already dumped the oldest ones. Also, the new ones were getting too costly to strip. But overall, the project was a success and the carriages created a whole new life under the Atlantic waters.
But unfortunately, Delaware, the first state to incorporate this project, is dealing with a tragedy of their own success. The reefs are getting overcrowded by more and more fish coming in! Also, with the thriving underwater community, there has been an increase in fishing and theft around these artificial reefs.
Certain species of fish, such as summer flounder and bass, are expanding their population so fast on the subway cars that the Delaware authorities are thinking of expanding the housing capabilities. But the officials are finding it hard to procure subway cars from NYC for free as other states are competing for them too. Apparently, the success the project saw in Delaware made other states realize they should do it too.
Apart from that, commercial fishermen are constantly getting their lines tangled of the hooks and corners of the carriages. This had made the state officials request the federal authorities to ban commercial fishing in the concerned areas. Moreover, crimes such as theft and sabotage of fishing lines are on the rise. Capt. David Lewis of the Delaware Bay Launch Service says, “People now don’t just steal the fish inside the pots out here, they’ve started stealing the pots, too.”
There are about 5 to 6 million shipping containers crossing the sea at any time. The United States imports more stuff this way than any other country. That’s nearly 20 million rectangular metal boxes a year that include anything from toxic chemicals to Cheetos.
And, since the blustery sea is indifferent to our humanly possessions, it is estimated that thousands of containers are lost every year along international shipping routes due to big waves or wind gusts.
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Sometimes they wash up on shore, but what happens to the containers that land at the bottom of the sea? No one really knew.
Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have been studying one of these containers for ten years after stumbling upon it while surveying the muddy Pacific ocean floor of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It is one of 24 containers lost from the vessel, Med Taipei, in a 2004 storm. And since the rules say you can’t dump in the national sanctuary, the shipping company paid NOAA a $3.25 million settlement, part of which funds studies that look at what happens when containers drop into the sea.
Story continues below…
Andrew DeVogelaere of the sanctuary and Jim Barry of MBARI published their findings in the May 2014, issue of the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.
It might not surprise you that the container disrupted the natural system down there, but the animals adapted.
It also turns out that the hard surface of the container, which they presume didn’t degrade due to the near-freezing water temperatures some 4,200 feet down, provided a reef-like structure for tubeworms, snails, tunicates and scallops, but not sponges or corals, which are found on natural reefs nearby.
They’re not sure why this is, but the researchers speculate that it might be because the corals just haven’t had enough time to colonize the container’s surface, or the container was coated in some corrosion-resistant chemical that discouraged them from living there.
Josi Taylor, the lead author of the study, told BoingBoing.net that the container basically acts as an artificial reef. “Animals will be drawn to it because it provides a place to hide from predators. And then predators will be drawn to that.”
Indeed, “You’ll find life around just about anything you put down there,” she said.
Check out the video below, narrated by Taylor.
He was carrying rusty old artillery shells he found in the sand.
“Can I keep them?”
They were live. The Delaware beach was evacuated. A bomb squad blew them up.
The country’s coastlines are littered with unexploded bombs, rockets and shells that regularly wash up on shore, according to military officials.
While the Army dumped chemical weapons mostly in deep water – as detailed in a Daily Press investigation published Sunday and Monday – the Navy used to throw surplus high-explosive, so-called conventional ordnance overboard, sometimes in relatively shallow water.
These “over-the-side,” “routine” dumping operations were official Navy policy from 1952 to 1964, according to a previously undisclosed Navy report obtained by the Daily Press.
After that, the Navy disposed of 31 million pounds of old bombs and rockets for six years in spectacular fashion: Loading them onto ships and blowing them to smithereens off the coasts of eight states.
One of those ships was detonated off the coast of New Jersey in 1964 and produced a blast so massive it was picked up by seismic sensors on land, many miles away, and threw unexploded ordnance in all directions. A year later, a ship blown up off Virginia Beach sent a plume 600 feet into the air – higher than the Washington Monument.
The practice stopped when the Navy lost a weapons-packed ship in the fog in 1970.
Nautical charts sometimes, but not always, mark the locations of conventional ordnance in the ocean. The discarded weapons are extremely hazardous. The military does not know where they all are located. Records are sketchy, at best.
“We’ve come to the conclusion we need to do a complete archival search,” said J.C. King, a retired Army colonel who was chief of ordnance and now works for the Army on explosives issues. “There are some vague reports. The Navy has some hand-written documents. It is logical to assume an archival search will come up with something. But it is possible it will show up nothing.”
King has spent the last year trying to find military ocean-dumping records after a clam dredging operation a mere 20 miles from the coast of New Jersey tapped into an undocumented ordnance disposal site that included chemical weapons.
His research uncovered little more than the fact that ocean dumping was standard Navy practice for at least two decades, and that a detailed report exists that documents a six-year, large-scale Navy ordnance disposal operation in the 1960s.
Two weeks ago, the Army authorized the Army Technical Center for Explosives Safety to do a military-wide review of existing records to identify where ordnance – both chemical and conventional – was dumped and when.
This would make possible a future assessment of the risks the ordnance poses to beachgoers, boaters and commercial fishing operations – something the military has never done. The Army is in charge of explosives used by all the military services.
Within the last three years, rockets have washed up on Assateague Island in Maryland; an unexploded antiaircraft shell was found in Dewey Beach, Del.; and a plan to dredge San Diego’s harbor was put on hold when unexploded ordnance and a depth charge were discovered near the shoreline.
A beach replenishment project in Virginia Beach last summer off Dam Neck Naval Reservation sucked up three truckloads of old ordnance from the ocean floor within yards of the shoreline, said Roy Hunt, a Navy master chief and explosives expert based in Norfolk.
That was just the small stuff that could fit through the hose that sucked sand off the seabed and sprayed it onto the beach, Hunt said. Rockets and other large munitions remain on the ocean floor at that location, he said.
It is hardly an abnormality on the nation’s coastlines, he added.
“Mines are out there. Torpedoes are out there. I know that. There’s a lot of ordnance out there,” Hunt said. “There are many hundreds of thousands of projectiles. I know this because sand dredging brings it up.”
In 1964, the Navy latched onto a novel way to get rid of aging or obsolete bombs and rockets: Load them onto rusty Liberty class ships, tow the ships out to sea and sink them.
It was called Operation CHASE, an acronym for Cut Holes and Sink ‘Em.
It was cheaper than the previous smaller-scale dumps, and got rid of both the ordnance and the unwanted ships at the same time in deep water locations, according to a previously undisclosed Navy report titled Historical Summary of Numbered DWD Operations. DWD stands for deep water dumping.
Over six years, 15 ships were packed with more than 31 million pounds of high-explosive ordnance and sunk off the coastlines of eight states – Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia, Alaska, California and Washington.
The first ship, the SS John F. Shafroth, was quietly scuttled southwest of San Francisco with a comparatively small load of a half-million pounds of rockets, mines and bombs.
The Navy decided to blow up the next ship.
It was spectacular.
The explosion of the SS Village, in deep water off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., consumed much of the 1.6 million pounds of bombs, grenades, mines and rockets and scattered unexploded ordnance in all directions.
The Sept. 17, 1964, detonation sent “extreme shock waves” in all directions and was so strong it was “recorded at numerous distant seismic stations,” the report says.
For the Navy, this was an unexpected benefit – a chance to obtain seismic data on large explosions that “would be valuable to the nuclear test detection program,” the report noted.
So for the next three years the ships were blown up at various distances from the shoreline to determine if seismic sensors inland could detect the explosions.
The 1965 detonation of the Coastal Mariner, in deep water off Virginia Beach, created “a severe shock wave” and a 600-foot geyser.
That practice stopped in 1970, after the Navy lost one of its explosives-packed ships off the coast of the Aleutian Islands, part of Alaska.
The ship was carrying more than 6 million pounds of bombs, mines, rockets and torpedoes, and was beginning to sink. Then fog rolled in and the Navy lost contact with it, preventing it from being bombed into oblivion.
For the next 19 hours, the Navy frantically looked for the ship, eventually found it, and failed in an effort to bomb it. The ship drifted into water deemed too shallow for detonation, so it was allowed to sink on its own in 2,800 feet of water, the shallowest of all the CHASE dumps.
The Navy looked the hulk over, decided it was safe enough, and gave up the idea of blowing up future ships in the dump program.
The holds of the eight remaining ordnance-packed ships were flooded so they would sink on their own.
Seven of them, however, blew up on the way to the ocean floor. Pressure on the munitions as they sunk presumably set off chain-reaction explosions that tore the ships apart, scattering the bombs and rockets that didn’t go off.
The last ship to be sunk full of conventional weapons was the SS David E. Hughes, sunk on Aug. 29, 1970, in 7,000 feet of water off the coast of Bethany Beach, Del.
With the rise of the environmental movement at the time, the Navy decided enough was enough and in 1971 canceled the program.
“Although the Navy believed the program relatively harmless environmentally as well as being operationally safe and cost effective, it was conceded that the full ecological impact of DWD operations was not documented,” according to the historical summary of the program.
Apple has already sold millions of the new iPhone 7, which started shipping this month. For many who bought one, the device replaces a perfectly good, recent model. True, after a couple years an iPhone might start showing signs of wear: The home button sticks, or the glass might be cracked. Some of these defects can be repaired, although few choose repair over upgrade. Others are caused by planned obsolescence. For example, Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 10, makes extensive use of haptic features that require an iPhone 6s—a device released just last year.And so people replace things: smartphones, tablets, phablets, laptops, LEDs, LCDs, DVD players, portable music players. Whether from breakdown, slow-down, or just the availability of a newer model, people discard electronics at the slightest inconvenience. It’s not just laziness or a lust for the future, either; the economics of gadgets encourages disposal. In some cases, for example, buying a new printer is cheaper than buying a set of new ink cartridges.The increase in consumption of electronics has two major adverse ecological effects. First, it significantly increases mining and procurement for the materials needed for production of gadgets. And second, discarded devices produce large quantities of electronic waste. That waste could be reduced through reuse, repair, or resale. Whether it ever will be is an open question.
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Electronics have always produced waste, but the quantity and speed of discard has increased rapidly in recent years. There was a time when households would keep televisions for more than a decade. But thanks to changes in technology and consumer demand, there is hardly any device now that persists for more than a couple of years in the hands of the original owner. As per the report of ENDS Europe agency, built-in obsolescence increased the proportions of all units sold to replace defective appliances from 3.5 percent in 2004 to 8.3 percent in 2012. The share of large household appliances that had to be replaced within the first five years grew from 7 percent of total replacements in 2004 to 13 percent in 2013. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 89 percent of young adults (18 to 29) own smartphones; 41 percent of the older generation owned VCRs at the same age.
The widespread use of semi-conductors and entrance of new players from Brazil, China, and India has made the manufacturing of portable devices relatively inexpensive, and the difficulty, inconvenience, or high cost of repair has made new purchases more economical. Manufacturers have also used software updates to privilege newer models of smartphones and computers, invisibly pressuring consumers to buy new devices just to maintain parity of experience. And companies have also increasingly ended support for older models or the operating systems that run on them. WhatsApp and Facebook, for example, recently announced that they will stop providing support for their apps on certain older models of Blackberry.
Following the lead set by razor blades, printer manufacturers have realized that they can make more money selling ink and toner than the printer hardware itself. According to a Financial Times report, a gallon of ink for the typical printer costs the consumer around $8,000. But the prices of printers are so low that once their initial ink supply is spent, the consumer is tempted to buy a whole new machine.
This idea of pushing consumers to buy new items quickly by artificially reducing the lifespan of products is hardly new. In 1924, Phoebus, a cartel between Osram, Phillips, Tungsram, and General Electric, insured that light bulbs did not exceed an expected life span of 1,000 hours. This cartel was dissolved in 1939, when Eastern European manufacturers started producing low-cost bulbs.
But today, planned obsolescence has broader and more serious consequences. Electronic waste is a global ecological issue. It raises concern about air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, information security, and even human exploitation. Air can be polluted when scavengers burn electronic waste to get the copper. If not disposed of properly, toxins from electronic waste can enter the soil and water supplies. And unlike light bulbs, which were engineered to break, much e-waste contains operational devices, which might contain intact data ready to be exploited after discard. The shortened lifespans of electronic devices, encouraged or designed by manufacturers, have pushed consumers to interpret working electronics as insufficient or unusable.
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Who is to blame? Consumers certainly have a role to play in the increase of e-waste—they’re buying the goods, after all. But manufacturers have given people fewer and fewer viable ways to keep older electronics functioning effectively. In the process, profits from device sales are way up, along with the satisfaction of these companies’ shareholders. It’s an impasse, one group pointing to the other as the ultimate source of electronic dross.
For this reason, reducing e-waste cannot fall on the shoulders of consumers or manufacturers alone. One possible alternative is to require producers of electronics to offer buy-back or return systems for old equipment. Export limits could be placed on manufacturers, too, where the quantity of goods that can be exported should be directly proportional to the amount of e-waste the company has recycled or re-used. Then there needs to be an effective way to insure that these returned devices get repurposed. Governments could give some form of tax break or rebate for companies that effectively process old equipment. And companies could reuse recovered parts from discarded goods in newer systems. Partially recycled devices could be sold in markets where buying capacity is limited. Or, they could be marketed as “reclaimed,” offering a social benefit even in wealthy markets.
Another option is recommitting to repairing smartphones and computers. Done properly, electronics repair might help reduce unemployment. Companies and NGOs could set up simple training centers where people could learn the skills, and manufacturers could provide better access to repair options and facilities. Government involvement in such programs would be extremely important, as the creation of such centers would need to contribute to broader socio-economic goals. Donors to NGOs might have a role to play in advocating for such change.
Resale is another option. Companies like Ebay and Olx offer the means, but obsolescence still hampers second-hand use. If older devices are not supported by manufacturers and developers, these gadgets end up back in landfills. Emerging economies such as Pakistan and Nigeria, where purchasing power is low, offer promising markets for the reuse of such devices. Pakistan has a thriving second- and third-hand market for older phones already; even older Nokia phones are common, complete with the monochrome snake game.
The conditions at e-waste processing facilities are dire. Devices have to be laboriously manually sorted and then disassembled. Furthermore, used electronic devices contain hazardous materials like mercury, lead, silver, and flame-retardants. They also contain small amounts of valuable raw materials, such as gold, copper, titanium, and platinum; one ton of electronic waste might yield 200 grams of gold. This sometimes makes the business of e-waste recycling unviable. Manufacturers have a role to play here, too: for example, by assisting in the creation of e-waste recycling centers in developing countries rather than using them as dumping sites.
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According to a United Nations Environment Program report titled “Waste Crimes,” up to 50 million tons of electronic waste—mainly computers and smartphones—are expected to be dumped in 2017. That’s up 20 percent from 2015, when about 41 million tons of electronic waste was discarded, mostly into third world countries serving as global landfills.
Everyone has a role to play in reducing electronic waste. Consumers can resist, or at least delay, acquiring new devices until they really need them. They can repair devices when possible rather than abandoning them. And after a new purchase, they can resell or recycle their old devices. But consumer intervention only goes so far. Governments need to regulate electronic waste, and the companies that make the consumer electronics they sell over and over again to the same people, at great profit.